RAILWAYS of the WEST MIDLANDS

A Chronology

1954 – 2016

 

Part Three: The Privatisation Years; 1994–2016

Compiled by Robert Darlaston from the sources listed on the last page

 

The two other parts of this Chronology may be found at:

RAILWAYS of W. MIDLANDS pt 1. (1954-1974)

RAILWAYS of W. MIDLANDS pt 2. (1975-1993)

 

1994

Next

Reference

Jan 10

RF.

Birmingham Snow Hill - Queen's Head sidings (Handsworth) reopened G.   First use on January 12.   [BLN723/4]

 

1995

Jan 10

R.R.

Stourbridge Junction - Stourbridge Town temporarily closed P and Stourbridge Town station permanently closed P pending construction of new station (see April 29).   [BLN721]

 

Mar 13

(Sunday)

R.R.

Head-on collision at Sutton Coldfield resulting in injuries to 12 persons.  The incident occurred during single-line working because of engineering work.  The trains involved were diesel multiple units (Class 150) replacing the normal electric units.

 

Apr 1

B.R.B.

Railways Act 1993 effective.  Railtrack assumed responsibility for rail infrastructure.   Freight operations broken down into three individual operating units, plus Rail Express Systems (parcels and mail) and Railfreight Distribution (continental traffic).   Passenger business sectors were split into Train Operating Units preparatory to privatisation.      [F&S]    

TOUs operating in the West Midlands were:

 

West Coast Trains (Inter-City services from Birmingham to Euston, Crewe and beyond).

 

North London Railways (semi-fast services from Birmingham to Euston).

 

CrossCountry (Inter-City services from Birmingham to Sheffield, Bristol, and Poole).

 

Chiltern Lines (services from Snow Hill – Marylebone).

 

Central (local services in the West Midlands area and trains from Birmingham to Wales and East Anglia).

 

Thames Trains (services between Paddington and Stratford-upon-Avon via Oxford and Leamington Spa).

 

1995         1996

2001        

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1997

 

 

1997

 

 

1996

 

 

1997

 

 

1997

 

 

 

1996

 

 

Apr 29

WMPTE/ RT/Cen.

New station opened P at Stourbridge Town, the branch being shortened by 37 yards.   [BLN733]

 

2006

Jun 27

RT

Sidings at Baddesley on branch from Kingsbury remodelled, later becoming Birmingham International Freight Terminal.   [BLN737]

2002

 

 

1995

May 29

XC

Direct service inaugurated from Manchester to Waterloo via Birmingham New Street, to connect with Channel Tunnel services   [B]

 

1997

May 29

XC

Sleeping car service through Birmingham to Scotland (latterly extended to run to and from Plymouth) withdrawn.   [B]

 

Sep 25

WMPTE/ RT/Cen.

Birmingham Snow Hill - Smethwick Junction reopened P with the stations noted below.  [Q]   A 'gala' service had been operated on the previous day.

Jewellery Quarter opened P.

The Hawthorns reopened P.

Smethwick Galton Bridge opened P (platforms on both Snow Hill and New Street lines).    Note:  Smethwick West was reduced to a token service from the same date.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1996

Dec

RF/RT

Traffic ceased on remaining portion of Oldbury Goods branch serving Albright & Wilson's sidings.   Branch remained in situ for several years but in practice was out of use.   (Cessation of traffic was a result of withdrawal of cross-channel train ferries, dangerous chemicals not being allowed through the Channel Tunnel).  

 

Dec 9

EWS

Under the provisions of the Railways Act 1993 a consortium formed by Wisconsin Central acquired Rail Express Systems (including Royal Mail trains).   [F&S]

1996, 

2004

2007

 

 

1996

Feb 24

EWS

Wisconsin Central acquired and consolidated the various ex-B.R. Trainload Freight operations, including those in the West Midlands, subsequently adopting the title English, Welsh & Scottish Railways.    [NAO]

 

2007

Mar 8

Transrail/ RES

Derailment and collision at Rickerscote, Stafford with one fatality.      The 14.40 Glasgow Mossend - Willesden freight was derailed following axle failure of a private-owner wagon and the 21.40 Coventry - Glasgow Royal Mail Travelling Post Office train ran into the derailed stock.   [HMSO]

 

Jul 21

Chiltern

Under the provisions of the Railways Act 1993 Chiltern Trains TOU acquired by M40 Trains (trading as Chiltern Railways).   [F&S]

 

2004

Sep

RT/Metro

Platform 4 at Snow Hill taken out of use as formation required for construction of Midland Metro route and terminus.   [B]

 

Sep 29

WMPTE/ Cen.

Smethwick West closed P.  (Since opening of Galton Bridge on 25/9/1995 the station had only been provided with a token service).   [Q]

 

Oct 13

Thames

Under the provisions of the Railways Act 1993 Thames Trains TOU acquired by Victory Railway Holdings Ltd (trading as Thames Trains).   [F&S]

2004

1997

Jan 4

XC

Direct service Manchester and Birmingham New Street to Waterloo (for Paris and Brussels) ceased because of poor traffic figures.   [B]

 

Jan 5

XC

Under the provisions of the Railways Act 1993 CrossCountry TOU acquired by Virgin Rail Group (trading as Virgin CrossCountry).   [F&S]

 

2007

Mar 2

Cen.

Under the provisions of the Railways Act 1993 Central TOU acquired by National Express Group (trading as Central Trains).   [F&S]

 

2007

Mar 2

Silver

Under the provisions of the Railways Act 1993 North London Railways TOU acquired by National Express Group (trading as Silverlink).     [F&S]

 

2007

Mar 9

WCML

Under the provisions of the Railways Act 1993 West Coast Trains TOU acquired by Virgin Rail Group (trading as Virgin West Coast).     [F&S]

 

May 24

RT

New Royal Mail platform at Stafford completed.   

 

2004

Jun 1

WMPTE/ RT/Cen.

 

Tame Bridge renamed Tame Bridge Parkway   [Q]

2008

Jun 2

RT/Cen.

Hednesford - Rugeley Town re-opened P   [Q]

 

Jul 11

RT/ABP

Associated British Ports' Hams Hall freight terminal opened G.   [B]

1998

May-25

RT/Cen

Rugeley Town - Rugeley Trent Valley reopened P.   [B]

 

May 25

WMPTE/ RT/Cen

Wolverhampton (Crane St Jc) - Walsall (Pleck Jc) reopened P for Wolverhampton - Walsall service.  (No intermediate stations).   A special inaugural service operate the previous day.   [B]

2005

 

 

 

 

1999

Jan 5

Red Star

Red Star parcels service acquired by Lynx Express Limited and subsequently closed down, thus ending the railway parcels business.   The operation had been sold to a management buy-out in 1995.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

May 31

WMPTE/Metro

Midland Metro opened P Birmingham Snow Hill to Wolverhampton St Georges, using the formation of the former G.W.R. line to Priestfield with on-street running beyond.  There had been special gala services on two preceding days.   The following tram stops were provided;  those shown in UPPER CASE are at (or immediately adjacent to) the site of former G.W.R. stations:

BIRMINGHAM SNOW HILL (near south end of platform 4, adjacent to tunnel mouth).

St Paul's

Jewellery Quarter  (situated south of former G.W.R. Hockley station).

SOHO BENSON ROAD

Winson Green / Outer Circle

HANDSWORTH BOOTH STREET

THE HAWTHORNS

Kenrick Park

Trinity Way

WEST BROMWICH CENTRAL

Lodge Road, West Bromwich Town Hall

Dartmouth Street

Dudley Street Guns Village (situated south of G.W.R.    Swan Village station).

Black Lake

WEDNESBURY CENTRAL

Wednesbury Parkway

BRADLEY LANE

Loxdale

Bilston Central  (situated north of G.W.R. Station of that name).

The Crescent

Priestfield (situated north of G.W.R. Station of that name).

The Royal

Wolverhampton St Georges

[B]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2015

 

 

2000

Aug 29

RT

Proof House Junction remodelled with the elevated Vauxhall lines providing a 'fly-over', allowing Cross-city line trains to cross both up and down Stour Valley lines.   [BLN882]

 

Oct 8

N.R./ Chiltern

Warwick Parkway opened P.    [Q]

2004

 

 

2001

Oct 7

RT

Railtrack plc placed in Administration by H.M. Government

2002

 

 

 

2002

Sep†

VXC

Virgin Trains introduce "Operation Princess" with greatly increased frequency of services on cross-country routes through Birmingham.  

This operation had varied success.   Services from Birmingham to destinations including Liverpool, Paddington, Brighton and Portsmouth were later withdrawn while operations were developed on other routes including those to Southampton, Plymouth, Glasgow, Manchester, Leeds, Newcastle, Edinburgh and Aberdeen.

 

2007

Sep 9

RT

Kingsbury:   Birmingham Intermodal Freight Terminal at Birch Coppice reopened G.   [BLN931 and 1153]

 

2006

Oct 3

N.R.

Network Rail acquires the assets of Railtrack (in Administration).

 

 

 

 

2003

Mar 18

N.R./ E.W.S.

Castle Bromwich automotive terminal officially opened by H.R.H. the Princess Royal.   [BLN943]

 

Oct 11

N.R.

Original GWR buildings and concourse at Birmingham Moor Street returned to use after major restoration work.   Station buildings erected in 1987 closed and later demolished, but original bay platforms still isolated from network.   [B&H]

2010

 

2004

Jan 9

E.W.S.

Final Travelling Post Office operated as part of the run down by Royal Mail of carriage of mail by rail (though a London - Warrington - Glasgow operation was subsequently reintroduced)

 

Apr 1

Thames/ Chiltern

Following termination of the franchise to Thames Trains, operation of the London (Paddington) - Stratford-upon-Avon service passed initially to First Great Western Link before being transferred to Chiltern Railways from 13 December 2004 (see below).

 

2004

May 23

Central

Local P service Coventry - Nuneaton - Stafford (-Stoke-on-Trent) suspended and Bedworth, Atherstone and Polesworth temporarily closed P.  Through services Coventry - Leicester ceased permanently on severance of direct connection at Nuneaton.   Suspension caused by WCML engineering work for upgrade.   [Q]

 

2005

Jun 7

N.R.

New alignment Abbey Jc - Nuneaton South Jc brought into use, including new platforms 6 and 7 at Nuneaton station for use by Birmingham - Leicester trains.   The new alignment uses the bridge across the Trent Valley line which had been disused on closure in 1992 of Abbey Jc - Midland Jc permitting Birmingham - Leicester trains to operate without conflicting with movements on the Trent Valley line.  The new line replaced Abbey Jc - Nuneaton North which closed to all traffic.    [BLN972]

 

Dec 13

Chiltern

Inauguration of two trains per hour on Birmingham - Marylebone service and transfer to Chiltern Railways of Stratford-upon-Avon - London service which subsequently operated to and from Marylebone via High Wycombe.

2008

 

 

2005

Jan 3

WMPTE/Central

Wolverhampton - Walsall P service suspended except for token daily train.   [BLN989/990/92]

 

2008

Mar 26

N.R.

Lichfield City Jc - Anglesea Sidings secured out of use.    [BLN992]

 

Apr 24

E.W.S.

Saltley diesel depot closed.

 

Jun 13

Central

Coventry - Nuneaton P service restored after suspension.   

Bedworth reopened P.   [Q]

 

Dec-12

Central

Atherstone and Polesworth reopened P.   (Token service of only one down train daily SuX at Polesworth).    [Q]

 

 

2006

Jul 4

FL

Birmingham Intermodal Freight Terminal at Birch Coppice opened G.   [BLN1023]  This seems to be a spurious entry in view of 9/9/02 (BLN1153).

 

 

2007

Feb 5

N.R.

Coventry, Three Spires Jcn - Keresley Prologis Park (on site of former Coventry colliery) opened G but saw little subsequent use.  [BLN1037]

 

Mar 31

E.W.S.

Walsall Tasker Street closed to D.H.L. parcels traffic.  (Official date - traffic ceased 23rd February 2007)   [BLN1038]

 

Jun 28

E.W.S/    DB-S

E.W.S. Freight operations acquired by Deutsche Bahn and rebranded DB Schenker with effect from 1st January 2009.

 

Aug 19

N.R./XC

Coleshill Parkway opened P.  (On site of former Coleshill station).   [Q]

 

Aug 29

N.R.

Control of signalling from Hampton-in-Arden (excl) towards Rugby and also Leamington (excl) transferred to WMSC Saltley on closure of Coventry Power Box.   [SB]    [BLN1035 says 9th April, but S.R.S website amends to Wed 29th Aug]

 

Nov 11

XC/ Central/   London Midland/ Silverlink/ ATW/V.T.

Cross-country franchise passed from Virgin Trains to Arriva Cross-country.   Central Trains franchise terminated.   Birmingham suburban operations taken over by London Midland along with semi-fast services to Euston via Northampton previously operated by Silverlink.   Trains to Cambrian lines taken over by Arriva Trains Wales and services to Cardiff and to the East Midlands by Arriva Cross-country.   Birmingham – Scotland service transferred to Virgin West Coast

 

2010

Dec 12

E.W.S.

Birch Coppice branch closed from headshunt to TNT sidings.   [BLN1057]

 

 

2008

Jan

Chiltern

Chiltern Railways franchise acquired by DB Regio, part of Deutsche Bahn.    (From 2011 D B Regio was administered as part of Arriva Group, upon acquisition of the latter by DB)

 

Feb 18

N.R.

Control of signalling from Leamington Spa (excl) to Jewellery Quarter, plus Hatton - Bearley transferred from Saltley Power Signal Box to WMSC Saltley.   [BLN1058, SRS]

 

Mar 25

N.R.

Control of signalling from Arley to Nuneaton transferred to Rugby Signalling Centre.   [SRS]

 

Apr 28

W&SR

Wrexham - Marylebone service commenced.   In the West Midlands area the only calling point for the trains was at Tamebridge Parkway.  [BLN1064]    (Trains took a variety of routes through the West Midlands:   after calling at Tame Bridge Parkway they ran via Aston, Stechford and Coventry to Leamington Spa or via New Street (no advertised call) and thereafter via either Coventry or Solihull.   W&SR trains were not permitted to take up or set down passengers at stations served by Virgin Trains West Coast main Line services).

 

2011

May-29

N.R.

Quadrupling completed north of Lichfield Trent Valley to Armitage  (already provided from Armitage to Colwich).  Control of signalling Tamworth - Rugeley transferred to Rugby Signalling Centre.   [BLN1068, SRS]

 

2009

Aug-27

N.R.

Use of additional platforms inaugurated at Rugby passenger station.  Work included the provision of an additional down platform principally for Birmingham line trains, which opened on 29th May 2007, and a new island platform on the up side.   [BLN1074]

 

Dec-13

WMPTE/ LM

Wolverhampton - Walsall passenger service (largely suspended from 3rd January 2005 - q.v.) reduced to a single weekly train in one direction only.   [BLN1072/76]

 

Dec 14

VT

Virgin Trains "Very High Frequency" service introduced, including trains every 20 minutes between Birmingham New Street and London Euston.

 

 

2009

May

N.R.

Quadrupling completed from Rugby to Lichfield T.V. (LL) and all lines brought into use.   [BLN1089]

 

May 26

N.R.

Nuneaton - Coventry line signalling transferred to Signalling Centre at Rugby and to WMSC at Saltley on closure of local manual signal boxes.   [BLN1089, SRS]

 

Jun 1

WMPTE/ LM

"Parry People Mover" railcars introduced on Stourbridge Town branch   (Note:  from 2005 to winter 2008-9 there were periods of several weeks when the Town service did not operate because of staff shortages and rolling stock difficulties, but the service was not officially withdrawn and motor 'bus services operated in lieu.   There were also occasional experimental Sunday services using the Parry vehicle powered by electrically charged flywheel).

 

 

2010

August

XC

Arriva Trains, operators of the Cross-country franchise, acquired by Deutsche Bahn.

 

Nov 1

N.R.

Control of signalling on North Warwickshire line to Bearley Jcn transferred to WMSC Saltley on closure of local manual signal boxes.   [BLN1121, SRS]   As part of the upgrade, a new crossover was installed at Whitlock's End, permitting all trains hitherto turning back at Shirley to be extended to Whitlock's End.  

 

Dec 12

N.R.

Two of original bay platforms at Birmingham Moor Street reconnected to network and returned to use.    (Ceremonial opening on 10th December).

 

 

2011

Jan 28

W&SR

Last day of operation of Wrexham - Marylebone passenger service.

 

Aug 30

N.R.

Control of signalling from Water Orton to Tamworth and to Nuneaton transferred from Saltley Power Signal Box to WMSC Saltley.   [SRS]

 

 

2012

Apr-10

N.R.

Control of signalling from Water Orton to Rycroft Jc and to Lifford Jc transferred from Saltley Power Signal Box to WMSC Saltley.   [SRS]

 

Aug 28

N.R.

Control of signalling from Jewellery Quarter to Droitwich (excl) transferred to WMSC at Saltley on closure of local manual signal boxes.   [SRS]

 

Oct 21

N.R.

Nuneaton North Chord (from Midland Yard Jcn to Canal Farm Jcn) commissioned as a uni-directional single line.   [BLN1171/2]   Official inauguration on 14th November.  [BLN1174]

 

 

2013

Apr 28

N.R.

First part of new concourse at Birmingham New Street opened, replacing the 1967 concourse which closed.

 

May 19

N.R.

Stratford-upon-Avon Parkway station opened P.

Aug 27

N.R.

Control of signalling from Hamstead to Rugeley TV transferred to WMSC at Saltley on closure Walsall power signalbox   [SRS]

 

Dec 9

LM

Hourly interval service Birmingham (Snow Hill and Moor Street) to Stratford-upon-Avon via Hatton North and West Junctions inaugurated, complementing existing hourly service via North Warwickshire line.

 

 

2014

Aug 26

 

N.R.

 

Wolverhampton Power Signal Box closed and control transferred to WMSC Saltley.

 

Sept 1

N.R.

Alvechurch station rebuilt and a two mile double track loop installed to facilitate a thrice hourly passenger service.

 

 

 

2015

Dec 6

Metro

New line opened from north end of Snow Hill NR station to Bull Street stop (a temporary terminus) and Bull Street stop opened P..   This section included the first street running in Birmingham since closure of the BCT tram operations in 1953. The Metro line within Snow Hill station and the Metro terminus were closed and the track immediately north of the station slewed to the new alignment.

 

2016

 

 

2016

May 22

Metro

Line opened from Bull Street to Grand Central (Stephenson Street) and the following stops opened P:

Snow Hill (on section of route opened Dec 6 2015)

Corporation Street

Grand Central

 

 

 

2017

June 17

WMPTE/

Centro

West Midlands Passenger Transport Executive and Centro dissolved and replaced by Transport for West Midlands (TfWM), part of the West Midlands Combined Authority

 

July 12

N.R.

Bromsgrove:  new station opened P., replacing old station which was slightly to the north.  (NB:  this was a Tuesday)

 

 

 

 

 

 

2017

January

Metro

Renaming of Snow Hill stop as St Chad’s

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The two other parts of this Chronology may be found at:

RAILWAYS of W. MIDLANDS pt 1. (1954-1974)

RAILWAYS of W. MIDLANDS pt 2. (1975-1993)

 

If anyone notices an error or an omission, I shall be grateful to hear from them. 

I may be contacted at robertdarlaston[at]btinternet.com (replacing [at] with @ ).

 

Abbreviations

ABP                 Associated British Ports

ATW                 Arriva Trains Wales

B.R.B.              British Railways Board

B.T.C.              British Transport Commission

Cen.                 Central Trains Limited

DB-S                Deutsche Bahn Schenker

EWS                English, Welsh and Scottish Railway Limited

FL                    Freightliner Limited

LM                   London Midland

L.M.R.              British Railways London Midland Region

Metro               Midland Metro

N.R.                 Network Rail

N.S.E.              British Railways Network Southeast

RES                 Rail Express Systems

R.F.                  Rail Freight

R.R.                  British Railways – Regional Railways

RT                    Railtrack plc

Silver               North London Railways, trading as “Silverlink

V.T.                  Virgin Trains

VXC                 Virgin Trains – Cross Country

W&SR              Wrexham & Shropshire Railway

WCML             West Coast Main Line

WMPTA            West Midlands Passenger Transport Authority

WMPTE            West Midlands Passenger Transport Executive (later trading as “Centro”)

W.R.                 British Railways Western Region

XC                   Cross Country Trains

 

 

 

Sources:

AA                    Automobile Association

B                      John Boynton:  Century of Railways around Birmingham (and other publications).

B&H                 I. Baxter and R. Harper:  Birmingham Snow Hill and Birmingham Moor Street (2 vols).

BEM                Contemporary issue of Birmingham Evening Mail

BP                    Contemporary issue of Birmingham Post

BR                   Contemporary British Railways publications, handbills and staff notices

C                      C.R. Clinker and J.M. Firth:  Register of Closed Passenger Stations and Goods Depots

CC                   Corrections to Col. M.H. Cobb Historical Atlas

Chr                  R. Christiansen:  Forgotten Railways of West Midlands

Cooke              Track Layout Diagrams of GWR and BR WR

F&S                 R. Freeman & J. Shaw:  All Change:  British Railway Privatisation

G1                    T.R. Gourvish:  British Railways 1948-73

G2                                -do-    British Railways 1974-97

HMSO             Her Majesty’s Stationery Office (Accident Reports)

MA-W                          Motorway Archive web page

NAO                 papers published by National Audit Office

P                      Personal notes/observations

PC                    Paul Collins:  Birmingham Corporation Transport (Ian Allan 1999)

PT                    Contemporary Public Timetables

Q                      Michael Quick:  Railway Passenger Stations in Great Britain

RC                   Railway Codes web site

RCTS-W           Railway Correspondence and Travel Society web page

RM                   Contemporary issue of Railway Magazine

RoW                 Railways of Warwickshire web site

SB                   Signal Box web site

SLS                  Contemporary issue of S.L.S. Journal

SRS                 Signalling Record Society website

WT                   Contemporary Working Timetable